Posted at 11.03.2018
In the first history, "How a Thief Climbed to top of the Storyline of Rasho Gate and Found a Corpse" which was rewritten by Akutagawa Ryunosuke into a short story "Rashomon", the two characters was altered to create psychological tension. The stories based on Konjaku Monogatarishu explicitly message or calls the young man a thief. Contrary to the older tale, Akutagawa's version portrays the man as one who's faced with a psychological dilemma of whether starving to loss of life or becoming a thief after being discharged from his samurai grasp.
The Rashomon gate and the ruined city were defined by Akutagawa as a setting up damaged by battle and the servant's refuge for his interior psychological struggle. In attempting to endure, he must choose between the two options: atrocity or virtue. Akutagawa used the theme of characterization to the storyplot from the circumstances of the samurai's servant. The former option is a eager fate he could hardly justify as he musters enough courage in order to survive as the latter option is a samuraic perception of choosing to perish rather than respond dishonorably. The pouring rainfall was used by Akutagawa to symbolize the unknown future of the destitute servant as his bleak thoughts travelled then halted to summarize that he does not have any choice but to become thief. This decision is forgotten later at the despicable eyesight of a vintage woman stealing hair from a deceased corpse. He confounds an desire to rather pass away than to concede to this evil work.
The servant's method of evil is reversed after hearing the hag's debate as excuses on her behalf vile serves. In the original story, the old woman's justification is agonizing alternatively than self-benefitting. The woman decided to make a wig from the the hair of her deceased mistress since she does not have a reliable burial. The storyline of Akutagawa is brought from another perspective through the revelation of the old woman's true motives. Reluctantly, she instructs the servant that she sustains herself by retailing wigs then alleviates by saying that the useless woman used to produce a living out of cheating others. This self-serving justification reverses the servant's first assertion. The storyplot ends with a devastating last blow that can be used against her reasoning. The young servant brutally robs the old girl of her clothes, kicks her about in to the pile of corpses, and disappears into the nighttime. This illustrates the ironic morality of the servant having a dispassionate treatment to another human whilst having a greater value for the deceased and the hag's fallible reasoning to save herself. Overall, it depicts post-war survival bringing on a scathed and left behind morality for the sake of self-preservation while giving an answer to the animalistic side of one's character.
In the next story, "How a Man who was simply Accompanying His Partner to Tanba Province Acquired Trussed Up at Oeyama, " which added to the recount of Akutagawa's "In a very Grove", the wife is depicted with partiality being the helpless woman obeying the stranger's order. In contrast, the woman in Akutagawa's history is narrated as a cunning personality until vulnerably overpowered by the bandit's vehemence. The weakness of the better half is portrayed in her ambiguity as Bodhisattva and changed to her excited respond to the bandit after the rape. Her reputation appears to be more incapacitating than her betrayal to her spouse.
The spouse in the old story is criticized as greedy contrary to Akutagawa's story which represents him as a samurai eschewing his wife's disgraceful reaction to the bandit. The man is also a powerless samurai filled with trend and jealousy in a torturous situation of discovering his wife raped and finally leads to his fatal loss of life.
In the old tale, the rapist disguises himself with gallantry than the samurai. Akutagawa uses this as a central theme of the dark tale. The storyline begins with the murder of the samurai in a grove in the forest. The readers are compelled to analyze the question: "Who murdered the samurai and just why?" Akutagawa did not present the story in a chronological narrative form like the Konjaku's but through a non-linear witness account of the incident. Also evident will be the addition of the witness statements of other four heroes - the woodcutter, the monk, the old woman and the policeman. The appalling confession originates from the deceased man who informed his side of the story through the mythical medium. For Akutagawa, all truths are comparative and thus there are no truths at all.
The visible changes in two of Akutagawa's tales are: the utilization of characterization to create a psychological intricacy, the paradoxical visibility of the dark side of the heroes to realize enlightenment for the viewers, the moral, philosophical and mental health discord of japan socio-religious culture under dire circumstances and the misogynistic perspective due to immorality and deception of feminine characters to save lots of themselves.
Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon based his story from Akutagawa. In his adaptation, the woodcutter becomes an eyewitness to the criminal offenses by giving a second account. He combined the two unrelated stories by keeping the thematic materials of "Inside a Grove" replete (except for the testimony of the mother of the partner) and rewriting the "Rashomon". It keeps the story's setting up, the dilapidated gate, the attitude of the commoner towards survival through self-preservation and the conversation about chaos and devastation in Kyoto. The film stresses the egotistic mother nature of man which leads to social chaos whereas the text identifies the situations as natural disasters. Kurosawa based the character of the commoner from the servant. The dialogue of the testimonies are framed within the general tale at the Rashomon as advised by the woodcutter, interpreted by the priest and positively responded by the commoner. A further incident added by Kurosawa that targeted to unify the meta-narrative of the film is the discovery of the orphaned infant. While Akutagawa emphasized the importance of moral principles and finding the fact, Kurosawa is more concerned about an ending with a opportunity of hope. Though the woodcutter's version appeared to be the most reliable, the scene of the newborn leaves us to question his second accounts.
The central theme of Rashomon is the conflicting variations of truth. The relativity of the truth, or its non-existence, is triggered by an complicated hesitation of the individuals' motivations. The self-serving mother nature of man and the subjectivity of moral ideals are responsible for its inconsistencies. From Rashomon, Kurosawa argues that the dissonant interpretations to the clean truth lead to fallibility when trust is fragmented.
Since the simple truth is comparative, it is impossible to find out who says the truth. The culpability of storage area, egotistic motivation, the ambiguity of intention and biased perception causes us to rely on presumption and subjective truth. The inconsistencies of the eyewitness accounts are a hindrance to the reality. Rashomon's point of discussion is the fact that it allows the visitors to assign trustworthiness to the character types and make their own ending. Truly, as articulated by the commoner, it is real human nature to forget distressing things so they may have their own version of the storyline.